Sun Shines on Waves Car Wash in West Roxbury
Part of National Solar Tour 2010, Waves Shows Off Panels; Educates and Inspires Locals on Solar.
A trip to Waves Car Wash on Saturday surprised some. Not only could you get your car scrubbed squeaky clean, but you also had a great opportunity to learn more about the solar panels owner Adam Korngold installed this year to reduce the energy costs and the environmental impact of his car wash business.
Korngold's business went solar in July 2010 and recently joined the American Solar Energy Society, a nonprofit organization, which according to its website is "dedicated to increasing the use of solar energy, energy efficiency, and other sustainable technologies across the U.S." and leads national efforts to promote solar energy education, public outreach, and advocacy. More about ASES can be found at www.ases.org.
On Saturday, Waves was one of 5,500 businesses, schools, public agencies and private residences nationwide participating in the ASES 15th Annual National Solar Tour, billed as "the world's largest grassroots solar event." A total of 11 tours were offered in Massachusetts.
Patrick Hurley, VP at Channel Sun Solar Power Systems and the installer of the Waves solar system, explained during the National Solar Tour businesses and homes with solar power open their doors to show others how it works.
"When the first tour started 15 years ago, groups of people boarded buses to get to a home or business in to take a peek at solar panels," he said, explaining that at the time few people had local opportunities to view solar power in action.
"Luckily, things have changed since then," Hurley said. "Today's event is a great example of that."
Hurley and Mark Allen, both of whom were involved in the lengthy design, build and installation of the Waves solar system, were on hand to lead tours and explain to visitors how the 160 solar panels located on the roof of Waves converts sun rays into usable electricity.
Mark Allen, Photovoltaic (Solar) Certified Installer and Master Electrician, was quick to point out the many rebates, grants and tax-credits available to those who decide to add solar panels to their homes and businesses, and mentioned that even residual costs associated is typically recouped by energy savings within 5-7 years of installing the system. He suggested the website www.dsireusa.org for a listing of state incentives for renewable energy,
Both Allen and Hurley cautioned that installing solar is not a do-it-yourself project. The panels are high voltage, the roof needs to be checked by a structural engineer who can determine if is able to bear the additional weight load of the panels, and the state requires electricians install solar panels. It also can be expensive, despite the available rebates and tax credits.
Korngold is a pioneering business owner committed to the environment. In addition to using 20 percent less electricity overall thanks to sun power he harnesses, Korngold also uses earth-friendly soaps and detergents and cleans, filters and reuses water through a sophisticated water reclamation system.
Additionally, after an extensive energy audit, he replaced and optimized equipment to maximize energy efficiency and installed a variable frequency drive system, which distributes the electricity he uses more efficiently and reduces his overall energy demand.
"I think the people of West Roxbury are concerned about the environment. I am as well," says Korngold.
Happily, in addition to helping the environment, Kornberg is also supporting other Massachusetts businesses through his own. Solectria Renewables in Lawrence supplies the PV inverters and web-based monitoring systems purchased by Waves. The ballasted racking system holding the solar panels at the precise 10-degree angle to maximize solar absorption are made by PanelClaw, located in Andover.
And because Waves is doing well by doing good, Korngold has hired additional employees to keep up with the demands of his popular business.
People came from all over the area to check out the solar tour.
Some were drawn by the free car wash offered to tour participants. Others were there to gather information about how solar works or how they might install solar panels in their home or business. A visitor whose Roslindale home does not have adequate southern exposure to be a good solar candidate seems quite likely to add solar to a New York property he also owns.
Jean Goldsberry of Dedham came to find out if solar might be a viable option for the 30,000 square foot non-profit packaging center she runs in Taunton, PRIDE, Inc., which employs people with physical and developmental challenges to shrink wrap, package and assemble items. Goldsberry had the opportunity to talk with Korngold, Hurley and Allen, each offering their unique perspectives and experiences as business owner, contractor and installer. Information in hand, she drove her none-too-clean Toyota Prius over to the car wash entrance for a wash.
Open since 2006, Korngold thought that going solar was a great opportunity for his high energy use business, allowing him to save money and help the environment at the same time.
"I took 7,000 square feet of wasted real estate, and turned it into a power plant," he says proudly, referring to the process of transforming an empty rooftop into a solar panel covered area which produces approximately 20 percent of his annual energy needs.
To check out very cool 24/7 monitoring of the energy captured by the Waves solar panels, visit
As you look at the 7-day graph, remember that weather plays a role, and that less AC power will be created on cloudy and rainy days.
Did you know that businesses and homes that generate more solar power than they can use on a given day actually sell back energy to the utility grid? The energy meter at Waves spins backwards in these instances, further reducing Korngold's monthly electricity bill!